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Pressure points

Published: 6:11PM Wednesday September 15, 2010 Source: Fair Go

Reporter:  Ruwani Perera

Fair Go  heard of hard-sell tactics employed by Wenatex and of concerns investigated by Consumer magazine so we blagged an invite and sent two actors along to one of their sales evenings. 

Personal details plucked from an Australasian database for a free gift and an exclusive dinner invitation.  But a free meal's not the only thing going on this menu.

Consumer magazine has also had concerns about Wenatex's selling methods and we saw it for ourselves.  The sales consultants made claims that the bed had almost miracle healing properties and that the need for a wheelcahir was not needed by one of the consultants as a result of sleeping on a Wenatex bed.

The consultants sales patter goes into the harmful toxins in our beds, dead skin cells in your mattresses and a raft of other ailments which can be healed by buying one of their beds.

The sales push hits a new gear - the special price tonight isn't going to last long - but they can't give away many details.

A deluxe sleep system - which consists of a kingsize mattress with a summer and winter duvet and pillows thrown in will set you back about $9000.

The calculator is brought out and a package deal's worked out - the pressure is laid on thick.  No money is asked for on the night - but payment is required on delivery of the bed.

When our actors ask if they can take away the sales contract and sleep on a decision - their request is refused.

Our actors don't want to make a final decision but the consultants push on wanting them to fill out the paperwork first and get back with an answer the following day.

Two and a half hours later our actors leave - exhausted after an evening out at a Wenatex sales event.

Fair Go's not saying there's anything wrong with Wenatex mattresses - it's their sales techniques under question.

They do seem very expensive compared with prices Fair Go has seen in retail stores which also came with bed head, box etc.

In the end the consultants offered our actors a 50% discount - a special rate never seen before.  The deal for a kingsize and single mattress amounted to over six and a half thousand dollars to be paid off within 24 months - interest free.

Wenatex's Australian and New Zealand CEO Claude Wernicke accepts the company has fallen below their usual high standards and is taking the opportunity to tighten up aspects of their sales process.  He acknowledges the sales consultants should not have made the claims they did to Fair Go's actors.

Wenatex will now allow seminar guests to take copies of their sales contracts away with them to review.  They will also publish an order form and terms and conditions on their website. 

The bed company will also publish a "Wenatex Seminar Code of Conduct" on their website to reinforce the importance of following company policy with all their sales agents.

Wenatex refuses to take responsibility for statements made by agents that are not contained in their sales training manual.  Wenatex reserves the right to dismiss an agent if unauthorised claims are made during a seminar.  They add that all of their agents are required to stick to the factual information provided in their brochure, training manuals and presentation guidelines.  They are not authorised to use materials provided by any other sources.  Agents take responsibility for the authenticity of any personal stories used in the presentations.

Wenatex don't think their beds are overpriced and say their beds are extremely well made and are not developed in low labour cost counties.

Their consultants are paid on commission but Wenatex say high pressure tactics are not wanted and are certainly not needed when it comes to selling their beds.

Wenatex have offered any customers who feel they bought their bed under pressure a refund of their purchase.

So how can you make yourself safer if you're at a sales seminar - what we call the hard sell:

* if you're considering buying, don't buy it on the spot.  Ask to take the contract and info away with you if you're not allowed to, walk away from the deal. 
* if you do buy, you may be covered under the Door to Door Sales Act, which gives you a seven day cooling off period so you can get all your money back if you change your mind and give written notice of cancellation.
* if you have bought the product on credit, under the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act (CCCF Act) you can cancel the contract, in writing, within three working days of signing a contract. 
* Wenatex have a 7-day right of cancellation from when you signed the agreement.  If you're not happy - say so.
* if you do cancel, do it in writing and get it acknowledged by the company.

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